DOCUMENT Strategy Winter 2021

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IT’S NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU THINK DON’T OVERLOOK THE COMPLEXITY OF ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE

BY ALAN PELZ-SHARPE

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ven though industry analysts feel the need to label and sort enterprise technologies into neat silos, this practice has always been of limited value — as it often makes navigating a buyer toward the right product for their needs much harder than it should be. For example, once upon a time, we called it ‘workflow.’ That made sense, as this was a technology used to manage the ‘flow of work’… ergo ‘workflow’. Likewise, we used to call ‘document management,’ because it was a term used for the technologies you would manage documents with. You get the general drift. Today, we live in a world of cognitive content services, ambient search and hyper-automation, with multiple sects, gangs and subgroups lurking around the

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corner from RPA to insight engines. All this effort to label, often entirely different products, into a single category helps nobody or very few. Take, for example, all the enterprise search tools in the market today. It’s in our nature to simplify things, but the ambiguities and differences between, say, the Microsoft Azure Cognitive Search product, ElasticSearch, Searchblox or Sinequa are essential to understand. They are all enterprise search products, but they are all quite different and incredibly complex. Or, to put it into more practical and hypothetical terms, imagine that four technology vendors are designated as ‘leaders’ by the experts; I want the best technology, so I will look at these four and nothing else. It sounds sensible, but in our experience, this simplification process of identifying so-called leaders does

little more than blinker and potentially blind you from finding the right solution to your needs. To quote Albert Einstein, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” That’s our job as industry analysts, to remove the unnecessary complexity and focus on what matters. Let me give you an example. We wrote about Adobe Liquid Mode and Google Workspace, both interesting, but technically very different products in and of themselves. What we tried to highlight in our research was that they both enable accessibility features that are critical to hearing, sight or the motor-impaired, and improve everyone’s usability experience. We could have dived deeply into the underlying AI technology in both products, but to what end? On one level, this is a screed against Magic Quadrants and Forrester Waves,